The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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I was really lucky, confesses Serena

Melbourne: Serena Williams thinks she needs to produce something magical to win her first Australian Open title. The world No. 1, after keeping alive the dreams of a ‘Serena Slam’ beating Kim Clijsters 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in the semi-final Thursday, conceded big sister Venus might not be as charitable as the Belgian in the final.

“Venus is actually playing a little better than me at this tournament, so...I just have to pull something out of my back pocket to be able to go on to the next level,” said Serena.

Having beaten Venus in the finals of the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open last year, the 21-year-old Serena is trying to become the fifth woman to hold all four Grand Slam titles at once.

Only Maureen Connolly, Margaret Court, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf have previously achieved that feat. Connolly, Court and Graf captured all four in the same calendar year.

“Obviously, I would like to win one more match. Granted, Venus wants to win this one as well (and) get her year started,” said Serena, who has won five and lost five against Venus since their first match on tour, in the second round of the Australian in 1998.

Serena paid tribute to Clijsters. “I was really lucky to be able to get through this match. Kim was really playing unbelievable tennis. I just kept fighting. I’ve always been a fighter.

“I don’t care if I’m down 6-0, 5-0. I always think positively out there. It was just an unbelievable battle out there.

“I just never think I’m going to lose. I just don’t want people to think I’m too cocky. It’s always something with us Williams sisters, you know.”

“I’m just going to go out there and try to win two sets by any means necessary,” she added.

Clijsters tribute to Serena

Kim Clijsters tried her best to hide the pain after the loss.

The Belgian flashed one of her famous bright smiles and even tried to crack a joke, but there was no way she could conceal the fact she had just become a victim of the nervous condition all top athletes dread, the “choke”.

“I was so close to beating her,” a stunned Clijsters said after squandering two match points and a 5-1 lead in the third set.

“It’s disappointing but I just have to try and keep my chin up.”

The 19-year-old had looked to be cruising towards her second Grand Slam final as she tormented the world’s best female player to open up a seemingly unbeatable lead in the deciding set. But suddenly and inexplicably, she fell apart at the seams.

“I can’t blame myself for anything, you know,” Clijsters said. “I just kept trying to hang in there but it just wasn’t good enough at the end.

“I wasn’t nervous at all, I think she just started hitting winners. If she plays her best, it’s very hard to beat her.”

Clijsters went into the match as the outsider but still brimming with confidence after beating the powerfully built American at last year’s season-ending WTA Championships.

“Out of every match you win or lose, you learn something,” she said. “She was just so much more aggressive. The only thing I think I could have made some more first serves and just try and get a little bit of an advantage from the beginning of the point.

“I was close, really close. But even on match point she just came up with a shot that was too good.” (Reuters)

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